Family Physicians Among Lowest Paid, Especially Female Physicians

Marcia Frellick

April 12, 2017

The new Medscape Compensation Report finds that family physicians, with a 1% increase to $209,000, have the second-lowest pay this year, higher only than pediatricians ($202,000). The highest earners were orthopedists ($489,000).

Employed family physicians, who often trade administrative burden for lower pay, made $207,000 on average in the survey, whereas their self-employed counterparts made 3% more at $214,000.

Just more than half of family physicians (53%) felt fairly compensated, according to the survey. The specialty with the highest pay satisfaction was emergency medicine, at 68% satisfaction, and the lowest was nephrology at 41%.

This year, physicians dissatisfied with pay were asked how much more they should make. Among family physicians, 45% said they should make 11% to 25% more, and nearly a third (32%) said they should make 26% to 50% more.

However, pay was ranked fourth on what family physicians find rewarding about the job. Top on that list was patient gratitude/relationships with patients (43%), followed by "being very good at what I do" (21%) and "knowing that I'm making the world a better place" (13%).

The survey of all physicians found spikes in the numbers who intend to participate in healthcare exchanges. That was particularly pronounced among family physicians: 43% said yes, up from 25% last year. The numbers saying no dropped from 26% to 23%, with the rest unsure.

As to the effect exchanges have had on income, 47% of family physicians reported no change, 14% said it decreased, and 7% said income increased. The rest did not participate in 2016.

Among family physicians, wide gender gaps are seen in all races, but among African Americans, the women far outnumber the men (61% vs 39%), according the report.

In all the other racial groups of family physicians in this survey, the men far outnumber the women: 64% vs 36% among Caucasians, 62% vs 38 among Hispanics, and 54% vs 46% among Asians.

Regardless of race, women in the field continue to make 15% less, on average, than men, at $191,000 vs $220,000.

Women were also twice as likely to work part time in family medicine (25% vs 12% for men).

The number of family physicians who spent more than 45 hours with patients was down slightly from 2016 (22% vs 25%). In comparison, 33% of all physicians spent more than 45 hours with patients this year. Among office-based family physicians, 70% spent 13-24 minutes with each patient.

Although 77% of family physicians said they would choose medicine again, only 67% said they would choose family medicine again. Only internists had lower numbers for choosing the same specialty, at 64%. The specialty with the highest numbers saying they would choose the specialty again was dermatology, with 96%.

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Medscape Family Medicine Compensation Report 2017. Published online April 12, 2017. Full text

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